LIFE

Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan and Tokyo Ballet take up residency in Athens

By Christina Sanoudou

An emblematic modern dance duet, a choreography created specially for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, a “ballet class” designed by Danish choreographer Harald Lander and a phantasmagorical fairy tale that initiates children into the magical world of ballet and Tchaikovsky: Four pieces presented in 19 performances with Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan and the acclaimed Tokyo Ballet compose the “Christmas with Sylvie” program that begins on December 19 at the Athens Concert Hall and runs through December 30.

Classical form meets contemporary movement in the duet “Sacred Monsters,” which, according to its creator Akram Khan, explores “the two different manifestations of time – the horizontal, linear time of the clock, and the perpendicular, ritualistic time of the ages, of life and death.”

Diminutive Khan and swan-like Guillem transcend their physical differences to experiment with commonly held issues. In Guillem, Khan “discovered the childish curiosity that every great artist is endowed with,” the dancer-choreographer told the press in Athens earlier this week.

“Sacred Monsters” will be performed from December 19 through Monday, December 23.

Guillem, who believes that “classical dance is where our roots lie and it is important that we don’t forget this,” will also star in a classical piece in her Athens shows. The dramatic ballet “Marguerite et Armand,” first choreographed in 1963 by Frederick Ashton to music by Franz Liszt for Nureyev and Fonteyn, was for years considered taboo for other dancers until Guillem decided to revive it, first dancing with Nicolas Le Riche and then with Massimo Murru, the primo ballerino etoile of Milan’s famed Teatro Alla Scala.

“I adore dying for love on stage,” Guillem said, adding that classical ballet is unique in the way that it expresses intense emotions and transports the audience to different worlds.

The tragic tale of Marguerite reminiscing on her love affair with Armand during her dying days is presented together with Harald Lander’s “Etudes” from December 25-30. The piece is basically a choreographed ballet lesson that begins with exercises at the bar and ends in spectacular displays of skill. It has been a part of the Tokyo Ballet’s repertoire for several years.

The final piece of the program is a modern take for children on Marius Petipa’s classic choreography for “Sleeping Beauty” by Munekata Lida. Performed mainly by young Tokyo Ballet dancers, the performance, which runs from December 25-30 in six afternoon performances, features Greek actor Renos Haralambidis in the role of narrator.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vassilissis Sofias. For tickets and more information, log on to www.megaron.gr or call 210.728.2000.

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